* Media advisory…
State Reps. Will Davis, Camille Lilly, Greg Harris and Emanuel Chris Welch will present evidence of racist and homophobic statements made by a member of the General Assembly at a virtual press conference on Monday, Sept. 21 at 10 a.m. The offensive statements were recorded and will be released to the public during this event.
Rep. Amy Grant (R-Wheaton) is the subject of the recording. She speaks in the call about her opponent, Democrat Ken Mejia-Beal, who is a gay, Black Democrat. This was supposedly a fundraising call. Click here for what the House Dems say is evidence that Rep. Grant knew she was being recorded, although she is not heard giving permission. “To her recollection, Rep Grant did not give permission to be recorded,” said a House Republican spokesperson. However, the Democrats also claimed that there is little to no expectation of privacy for a legislator or a candidate.
* Grant excerpt…
I mean he’s just another one of the Cook County people. That’s all you’re gonna vote for is Cook County, another, ya know, Black Caucus, that’s all we need is another person in the Black Caucus. Yeah, so anyhow. And I’m all for, ya know, I work across the aisle and Will Davis is a buddy of mine and he’s in leadership and I am a friend of his and he respects me.
* Another Grant excerpt…
GRANT: Well, I think he’s afraid to come into the district actually, into the heart of the district anyhow.
CALLER: Why? Why do you think so? Why do you think he’s afraid? I’m just curious.
GRANT: I just think that maybe he’s afraid of the reaction that people might give him. Not because he’s Black, but because of the way he talks. He’s all LGBTQ. He wants to work for the chronically ill. He just gives us like crazy, and every week it’s a different reason for why he wants to get into the race.
The Democrats said they wouldn’t release the entire recording because of issues with personal identification. “She talks about other people, is disparaging of other people,” Rep. Welch said, adding “I just thought that it wasn’t our place to reveal the entire call.”
* From Rep. Grant…
I deeply regret the comments I made about Ken Mejia-Beal, and reached out to apologize to him this morning. These comments do not reflect my heart or my faith.
* I asked the Democrats about the apology and Rep. Welch said this…
We have to question her questioning an opponent talking about the chronically ill. If you’re living with diabetes, you’re living with high blood pressure, you have pancreatic cancer like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and you fought, you’re fighting like a champion like she did. Rep. Amy Grant has a problem with you speaking for the chronically ill. We heard that on that tape. Do we want someone like that in the Illinois legislature? This call questions her character and is completely inconsistent with her apology that she makes now, because she was caught on tape. But what’s she saying when she’s not on tape?
* I followed up with Welch and asked if this rose to the level of conduct unbecoming a legislator, since Welch chairs the committee that’s considering whether to punish House Speaker Michael Madigan for that very thing…
I think people should listen to that tape and listen to it repeatedly, and that’s a question for everyone to ask themselves. I think Leader Durkin should ask himself that question. I think Rep. Mazzochi [a fellow investigative committee member] should ask herself that question, Grant Wehrli [another investigative committee member] should ask himself that question, and honestl, answer that question because listen to the tape, she has a problem with Blacks, LGBTQ people, and the chronically ill. And so, I’ll let others answer that question for you, Rich.
“Release the tapes,” said House GOP spokesperson Eleni Demertzis this morning.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Press release…
On a recorded fundraising call, Rep. Amy Grant (R-Wheaton) made racist and homophobic remarks aimed at her Democratic challenger, Ken Mejia-Beal, a Black gay man. We the undersigned members of the Illinois House LGBTQ Caucus condemn this hateful rhetoric in the strongest terms possible.
The LGBTQ Caucus believes this kind of hate speech has no place in Illinois, especially from an elected state representative. The fact that these comments were made when Rep. Grant knew the call was being recorded demonstrates the emboldening and normalization of racism and homophobia, a deeply troubling trend that we have witnessed during the Trump era. To criticize and ridicule someone for who they are and who they love is despicable and unacceptable.
People in our community have fought for decades against discrimination and to be represented in our government at every level. There are LGBTQ people in every town and village and every corner of our state. For Ms. Grant to talk about needing fewer members of the Black Caucus and fewer LGBTQ members is just wrong.
This is a stark reminder that we as elected officials must continue the fight for equality and inclusion in the face of hate.
Majority Leader Greg Harris
Representative Kelly Cassidy
Representative Yoni Pizer
Representative Lamont Robinson
Representative Sam Yingling
*** UPDATE 2 *** Senator Laura Ellman…
“We’ve gone through so much this year, fear, anger, uncertainty, distrust, outrage. And now this. Grant’s racist, homophobic remarks, and her words on the chronically ill, knowing she was being recorded, not only show her small mind and her cold heart, but show how little she cares for the people she represents. We don’t have time for this, the stakes are too high. We need people with expansive minds and compassionate hearts who work hard in Springfield. We need Ken Mejia-Beal.”
*** UPDATE 3 *** Ken Mejia-Beal…
“I am a DuPage County resident. I’m a financial professional. I’m a husband. I’m an advocate for property tax relief, access to health care, and other issues I am passionate about. But in her hurtful, degrading, and wholly unacceptable comments which have now come to light, Representative Grant makes it clear that she sees only the color of my skin and my sexual orientation – and that in her mind disqualifies me as a leader and even disqualifies me as a member of our community.
“Nowhere in Representative Grant’s one-line public response or the phone message she left me reading that same message is any acknowledgement that the statements she made so matter-of-factly on those recordings were also a grievous insult to every member of our community. Where is Representative Grant’s apology to those who hear her comments and wonder if they fit into her vision of our community? Where is the apology to all whose faith calls them to love their neighbors as themselves? Where is her apology to all in our area who are sick of politicians dividing people with their rhetoric? And where is Representative Grant’s commitment to use the time she has remaining in office to finally represent all of our unique community?
“I am running because I know we are a stronger, better community than the one Representative Grant depicts in her hurtful words and extreme agenda – and the people I talk to in every part of our district know that too.”
*** UPDATE 4 *** Equality Illinois…
Equality Illinois condemns the racist and homophobic comments made by State Rep. Amy Grant against her challenger, Ken Mejia-Beal, a Black gay man.
In a phone call to a donor released today, Grant said: “He’s afraid of the reaction people might give him, not because he’s Black, but because of the way he talks. He’s all LGBTQ, he wants to work for the chronically ill…” We at Equality Illinois and in the LGBTQ community recognize this age-old homophobic attack against gay men. Grant also made a pointed racist remark by saying “all we need is another person in the Black Caucus.”
Even in the age of Trump, Illinoisans expect their elected officials to act with integrity and in accordance with Illinois values of equality and inclusion. Amy Grant fails even that basic test. She is clearly unable to represent all of her constituents with equal care and respect. Her apology is insufficient for an elected official in 2020.
Homophobia and bigotry must have no home in DuPage County or anywhere in Illinois. Grant must drop out of the election. If she does not, the voters of the Forty-Second District must reject her and send a message on Election Day that love trumps hate.